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Apple’s Vision Pro Portends a Dark Future | Commonweal Magazine

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the societal and philosophical implications of Apple's new virtual reality headset, the Vision Pro. It explores how the device's ability to immerse users in personalized digital environments could have profound impacts on human interaction, social dynamics, and our understanding of subjectivity and intersubjectivity.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The Critique of the Vision Pro

1. What are the main criticisms and reservations expressed about the Vision Pro?

  • The article describes a "wary resignation" and "dependent contempt" towards the Vision Pro and digital technology in general, even among those who are not outright skeptical of its utility.
  • Many view the Vision Pro as another step in the effort to make public life more private and isolating, allowing users to curate their own personalized "me-world" that cannot be shared with others.
  • There are concerns that the Vision Pro could lead to profoundly antisocial consequences, with users becoming detached from real-world interactions and relationships.

2. How does the article connect the Vision Pro to philosophical ideas about subjectivity and intersubjectivity?

  • The article references Sartre's concepts of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, arguing that the Vision Pro allows users to mold reality to their own specifications and live in a world that is inaccessible to anyone else.
  • This undermines the idea that our subjectivity is inextricably tied to our awareness of others' subjectivity, as described in Sartre's examples.
  • The Vision Pro enables users to become "unashamed peeping Toms," curating their view of the world without fear of being exposed themselves.

[02] The Tech Industry's Motivations

1. What does the article suggest are the tech industry's true aims with devices like the Vision Pro?

  • The article argues that the tech industry does not primarily aim for utility, but rather for addiction - creating products so compelling that they become indispensable, even if they seem initially useless.
  • The goal is to capture and monetize every instance of unmanipulated human attention, which the Vision Pro promises to facilitate through increased tracking and steering of users' attention.
  • The article suggests the tech industry is more interested in exploiting human instincts and hijacking consciousness for profit than in satisfying our considered desires.

2. How does the article view the tech industry's claims about the Vision Pro's future potential?

  • The article is skeptical of the claim that "this is the worst this technology will ever be," arguing that it is more likely to get "much worse" in terms of its antisocial and exploitative consequences.
  • The article sees the Vision Pro as a new "weapon" in the tech industry's efforts to strip-mine human consciousness for value, with little regard for individual well-being or the common good.
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